Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Indonesian Fires Threatening Orangutans


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New Brunswick, N.J. (Sept. 23, 2019) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Erin R. Vogel, an expert on endangered orangutans, is available to comment on tropical forest fires threatening the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in the Mawas Conservation Area on the island of Borneo in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The research team comprised of faculty and students from Rutgers, University of Zurich and Universitas Nasional Jakarta has collected behavioral data during long-term research on more than 150 wild orangutans. Research began in 2003 in the approximately 740,000-acre Mawas Conservation Area, which has one of the world’s largest remaining wild orangutan populations (an estimated 3,500).

Vogel, who has conducted research at the station since 2004, became co-director in 2011 with faculty from Universitas Nasional in Jakarta, with logistical support from the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). Her research focuses on the relationship between nutrition and health in wild orangutans and how the changing environment influences long-term health in these animals. BOSF is working closely with the Tuanan research and fire team to fight the fires.

“The Mawas Conservation Area and the orangutan population are threatened by these fires and if the habitat burns these orangutans have nowhere to go,” said Vogel, a faculty member of the Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution and an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers–New Brunswick and Center for Human Evolutionary Studies. “In addition to the harmful effects of the fires on human health, our past research has shown that the carbon emissions and smoke produced by these fires are extremely harmful to orangutan health.”

“We are working around the clock to put out these fires with the support of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation,” Vogel said. “We have raised more than $30,000 for firefighting activities so far.”

Vogel is available to comment at erin.vogel@rutgers.edu

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